Doctor Who : The Haunting of Villa Diodati

Episode 8

We travel to visit Mary Shelley before she has had a chance to write Frankenstein, there is something fishy going on and she needs the Doctor to help her out.

Or something like that.

In fact nothing like that.

It was actually a bit of a waste not only of Mary Shelley but Lord Byron and Percy Shelley as well as the strange group they had around them at the time. It wasn’t really about them and as characters none of them stood out, in fact it took me forever to figure out who was Mary Shelley and who was Claire Clairmont.

They just weren’t important.

Stick any other group of people into this episode and it would have worked maybe even better because instead of the Doctor coming over as a giant fangirl of Mary Shelley and the actual characters having no development, because we should apparenlty just care because of “history”, we would have had to get to know the characters and might have cared about things like Percy Shelley becoming the guardian and being close to death or could tell characters apart much faster then I did.

They just weren’t important though because what was important was the arrival of the Lone Cyberman.

Now I like Cybermen but I can take and leave the get up since the show came back. This Cyberman managed to be the clunky silver guy we’ve all come to know but even better, with a torn off mask and in some ways actually having feelings and human reactions to things he became more of a threat, more real and less like a bunch of not very scary marchy robots.

I like the transporting stuff, seeing how desperate even a Cyberman would be to continue his race. Moments like when Mary Shelley tried to reason with him because he had spared the baby and he had denied that by saying that the baby was weak and useless to him were great.

He was honestly the best Cyberman we’d had in a long time.

I feel like the haunted house story should have been the one that they went with, seeing flashes of the Cyberman as the storm raged on, some other ghostly types due to the Cyberman’s ship causing all kinds of havoc and even the entire house changing shape stuff was actually really great but again because they had to remind us that these were historical characters that kind of got waylaid in the Doctor wondering why things weren’t perfect or the love triangle of Clairmont, Byron and Dr John Polidori which was just totally unneeded.

Now with the Cyberium that he needed the Cyberman is off to restore the Cybermen leading into a two part finale that might be actually a whole bunch of fun.

Unfortunately this was the first real big dud of the season for me, the most unrewatchable of the lot and one of the weaker of the historical episodes on a whole.

Thing is this entire series has been jam packed with people. Every episode just has too many faces, too many stories going on at once that there have been a few times where interesting people whether historical or originally made for the episode got lost in the business of the episode. This time out there was no excuse because so much of the episode dragged having to be about them but the writer seemingly forgot that not everyone is going to care for these characters in the same way we might care about someone like Shakespeare of Dickens.

I didn’t really know anything about any of the characters other then what they had wrote in their lifetimes before this episode and having them act like school kids who got drunk on mum and dads secret alcohol stash didn’t really enlighten me either. There was no meat to their story with the viewer having to mentally put in the pieces because we apparently should have just known them.

A shame but at least the two part finale looks great.

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